Welcome to the Major League Rugby Grab Bag where I highlight some of the best things I’ve seen from around the league every week.
Major League Rugby’s fifth season is in full swing.
The halfway point is right around the corner, and it’s exciting as ever.
If you look back to the Round 2 Grab Bag, I thought the MLR did a good job when it came to scheduling around the Super Bowl. I wrote that I thought the league could’ve done a better job ensuring that the players receive adequate amounts of rest, but overall I thought it was smart to spread the matches out across the weekend to ensure that they weren’t competing with the Super Bowl.
Now at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I wish that the matches were a little more spread out in Round 7.
There were too many matches on at the same time! Four of the five matches that were played on Saturday overlapped and three of them started at the exact same time.
I try to watch all of the MLR matches every weekend, and The Rugby Network has made catching up on the action pretty easy, but that’s not always possible. Weekends get busy in the spring.
It’s not uncommon for other leagues to schedule matches at the same time. The NFL has a bunch of games that occur in the early slate every Sunday, but they also have to schedule 16 football games every week.
With only six matches every weekend, I’d like to see the MLR either spread out across a few days or even just throughout the day on Saturday, personally.
I acknowledge that I don’t know what goes into scheduling, but I’d think that spreading the viewership throughout the day would help with viewership, wouldn’t it? Then people are having to choose between what matches to watch and which ones to try to squeeze in at a later date. Sometimes the matches just hit a little differently when you know they are live.
Just my two cents.
Now let’s get into the Grab Bag!
New England Free Jacks
I have very much enjoyed what I’ve seen from the New England Free Jacks in 2022.
They find themselves in third place in the Eastern Conference through six matches because they’ve done exactly what they’re supposed to do through the first two months of the season.
Their lone loss was a narrow one to last year’s reigning champions, as they fell 19-15 to the LA Giltinis at the end of February.
Instead of letting that loss throw them off their game, they turned around and handed Rugby New York their first loss of the season. They most recently knocked off the Austin Gilgronis 25-17, the team that looked untouchable up until two weeks ago.
They have an MVP candidate on their roster in Beaudein Waaka, and have already proven that they can hang with anyone in the competition. Now they’ll get the chance to beat the top dogs in the east when they travel to Georgia to take on Rugby ATL in what will probably be the game of the week.
I can’t wait.
American Rugby Pioneers
One thing that is becoming cooler and cooler to me as the weeks pass this season is seeing a number of players that have been around the league from the very beginning hit 50 caps.
Dylan Fawsitt and Sam Windsor of Rugby New York became the third and fourth players to achieve the milestone in Round 7, and they joined Angus MacLellan of the Utah Warriors and Tim Metcher of the Seattle Seawolves as the only players in the club thus far.
Since the league has existed, I’ve always looked at those guys as pioneers for the sport of rugby in the United States. They literally put their bodies on the line week in and week out to not only make the league work but to give the league the necessary time it needs to work out the kinks.
The league is not perfect. It’s not going to be perfect next year, either. But durable, dependable players like Windsor, Fawsitt, MacLellan, and Metcher make the league what it is. They’ve been able to see how much it has grown and changed from the beginning to now.
It’s great to see them get their flowers, and I hope that continues to be the case when they leave the league in a much better place than they found it. Whenever that may be.
Hit of the Week
Old Glory D.C.’s season surely is not going the way that they envisioned, but you have to give credit where it’s due. They are still playing hard. Based on the clip below, they are hitting, too.
All aboard the Doug Fraser train.
— The Rugby Network (@therugbynetwork) March 20, 2022
Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @DNVR Rugby.